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Shoulder Mount

I really wanted a shoulder mount for my DSLR camera, but could not afford the ones for sale. So I made my own.

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Here is a little bit more information about my DIY camera rig:

I created a flickr photo gallery here with a lot of detailed pictures

Parts/Supplies

4 pc aluminum (or other) tubing with a matching diameter Drill bit . On my rig, the short rails are 8 1/2" and the long rails are 22 1/2" but you can adjust this to best fit your application.
I got my aluminum at Industrial Metal Supply in Burbank when I lived in LA, but now that we are in Dallas I got my replacement supplies at http://www.metalsupermarkets.com/


1 Ikea Boholmen plastic cutting board or similar http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20114213



A small piece of foam for the shoulder pad, if desired.

Several small screws or nuts and bolts with drill bit (and tap if desired) to match

2 bicycle hand grips


Step by Step



First I created a drawing of the parts I thought I might need to cut out of my plastic cutting board. I Intended to do everything in metric with the standard 15mm x 60mm rod configuration, but 15mm supplies were not as easy to find as I had hoped. After a failed mission to Ikea to find some 15mm drawer handles, I decided to scrap that plan and use the 5/8" aluminum tubing I had left over from a previous project since a) I didn't need to spend any extra money on the rods, and b) I had a 5/8" drill bit. This PDF you has my original 60mm x 15mm design, but you can make your rods and holes whatever size is easiest for you.
plans

 

Next I cut out a couple of long pieces for the 4-hole frames. (actually my first go was a 3 hole frame, but this did not set the camera far enough over to the left to line up the Z-finder with my eye.) In the video you can see me working on the three hole version in places...


With the long pieces cut out, (make sure to make them wide enough that there is a good amount of plastic remaining around the holes) find the center line of each of the two frame pieces and mark the center points of the 4 holes as accurately as possible. These two frames must line up exactly so that the tubes fit and stay nice and parallel. I marked my center points with a calipers and a small drill bit. Then I drilled a tiny hole at each center point to guide the larger drill bit. It might be helpful, if you do not have a calipers, to drill the two frame pieces at the same time stacked one on top of the other. You could even make them longer than needed and screw them together so that you know the holes are dead-on accurate. Then when the holes are drilled you could unscrew the pieces and trim away the screw holes. (here is a quick diagram)


I cut out all of my frame pieces with a small band-saw which left really rough edges. I lightly sanded each piece so that everything would have a clean and smooth professional look.



Once I had my 2 4-hole frame pieces completed I assembled the short rods and longer rods together in the frame to test the alignment. The holes I drilled with my 5/8" paddle bit were an exact match to the 5/8" tubing which made the frame fit very snugly without any screws.


With the alignment good, I moved on to the mounting plate. This was just a small rectangle piece of the cutting board that I screwed to the 2 shorter rods with 4 small screws. Each of the 4 holes is countersunk so that the screw heads are flush with the surface of the plastic mounting plate. I chose to tap the holes in the tubing as well so that the screws would thread into the rods. If you use a large enough screw you *may* be able to skip the threading process, or you could drill all the way through the tubes and put a washer and nut on the underside. I wanted it to look as clean and professional as possible, so I did the extra work of threading the holes.

With the mounting plate securely in place I used a piece of paper and a pencil to transfer the hole pattern from the bottom of my camera to the mounting plate and drilled two 1/4" holes in the plate. This is the place where I spent the most time. You want to make sure that when your camera is screwed to the rig that you can still access the battery through the space between 2 rods. I very carefully measured where the holes needed to be on the plastic piece so that I did not align my battery door in a position where I could not remove the battery. I also noticed that if I only mounted the camera with 1 screw in the center hole that it could rotate a little bit even when the screw was tightened as tight as possible. Since my Zacuto base-plate has 4 mounting screw holes, I added a second mounting screw to keep the camera nice and straight. If you only have the center hole, a small piece of black rubber or fun foam glued to the top of the mounting plate might be enough to get a secure grip and prevent any rotation.

 

Next I tackled the shoulder piece. I wanted something that mounted to the rods via two holes like the rest of the frame, so I came up with the s-shape idea which ended up working really well. I cut out a 14" long piece of plastic and drilled two holes with my 60mm spacing at one end. I then bent this piece into the final shape by heating it very slowly over my gas stove. You have to do this VERY slowly or else you will melt or burn the plastic. It took a few minutes of slow heating, but by heating a little, then bending a little, then heating a little more, and bending a little more etc. I eventually got the shape I wanted. When I had just the right bend, I ran the plastic under the faucet to cool it down and set the curve. This did take a little time and fiddling to get right, but once I had the shoulder piece mounted on the rods I was really happy with the result, and once I glued the foam piece in place, the camera sat at just the right height! Also as an added benefit, since the shoulder piece is mounted without any screws, it is adjustable.



To make the handles I cut out the two small hockey stick shaped pieces in my diagram with 2 60mm apart 5/8" holes so that they would fit over the outer two rods on each side. I made the handles just wide enough so that the bicycle grips would fit on them very snugly. So snugly in-fact that I accidentally broke one of the handles trying to put on the rubber grip. I was out of plastic at this point from too much experimenting, so ended up having to mount my handles by just one hole on the outer rod. This makes them much less sturdy and I want to go back and fix this eventually. I drilled two small holes in each handle and screwed them to the rods just like the camera mounting plate. I also noticed that the weight of the camera on the mount caused the right handle to rotate a little bit, which was not good. To prevent this, I added a screw in the top of the frame going through the rightmost rod. You can see this screw in the pictures.



You will also notice that I added a few more 2-hole black frame pieces to cover the ends of the rods in the front and back of the 2 4-hole frame pieces. I do not think these are necessary, but I did think they added a little finishing touch, and probably help strengthen the rig. I really like how it turned out- and I think that it looks and functions great!

Since finishing the original build, and the video, I have added a small aluminum strip along the bottom with two 1/4-20 threaded holes for accessories and a tripod plate. I also found out about a cool mod people are doing to add a cable release to their rigs for triggering the video button so I added one of those as well. You can see these in the pictures.


here is a really low quality video showing the extra new features I added since the original video.

 

 


I would like to add some weight to the back in the future as well to help counter-balance the weight of the camera, but I have not decided on what to use for that yet.

I hope this helps, and happy building!

-cris